The exhibition, ‘Alien Resident: San Diego Photographs 1986-1987’, has evolved from photobooks published by Craig Atkinson at Café Royal Books. Atkinson has become well known for publishing the work of recognised British documentary photographers, as well as promoting the work of less established practitioners. Since 2014, Stephen Clarke has published eleven books with Atkinson. Throughout 2019, Café Royal Books released four photobooks of Clarke’s San Diego photographs; most of these pictures of southern California are included in this exhibition along with previously unpublished work.


From 1983 to 1986, Clarke studied Fine Art at Newport College of Art in South Wales. Tutored by Keith Arnatt, Ron McCormick and Ian Walker, he became interested in photography. During this period, his tutors were engaged with the work of the American New Topographics photographers. Introduced to the work of Lewis Baltz and Robert Adams, Clarke would follow his own route to the western States. From 1986 through to the summer of 1987, Clarke lived and worked in San Diego. During his free time, he would drive around the city to make photographs of this landscape that was both familiar and alien at the same time.


Contemporary Art Space Chester is part of the University of Chester, and is supported by Cheshire West and Chester Council. CASC’s gallery is located in the centre of Chester, close to the Town Hall and the Cathedral. The principal purpose of CASC is to provide a platform for the Department of Art and Design at the University of Chester to showcase work and test research.


From initial work with Café Royal Books, this exhibition is a starting point for further investigation into Stephen Clarke’s larger archive of photographs of San Diego. Comprised of 145 unframed work prints pinned to the gallery walls, these pictures of cars, apartments, palm trees, beaches, and the ubiquitous American mailbox, present journeys through the Californian landscape in the mid-1980s.


Mike Pinnington has written about Stephen Clarke’s San Diego Photographs for The Double Negative.

Stephen Clarke has written about his experience of taking photographs in San Diego in the 1980s for Photomonitor.

Café Royal Books have published four San Diego books.

Redeye, Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, Market Buildings, Thomas St, Manchester M4 1EU, UK
© 2010–2021 Redeye The Photography Network